Patriots: Tom Brady Destroyed Jets With Empty-Backfield Sets


Some men just want to watch the world burn, and on Sunday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady unleashed hell on a re-made, lean, mean New York Jets team that’s historically had Brady’s number like few teams have.

It’s a good thing Brady was on point against the Jets, because he wasn’t getting a whole lot of help from the rest of the Patriots.  Playing in his first game back this season, receiver Brandon LaFell might as well have been wearing mittens – LaFell dropped three passes himself, and the rest of the Pats dropped another three for a total of six drops on the day.  It’s safe to say none of us want to be Brandon LaFell in practice this week.

But it was good enough for win number six on the year, and one stat from yesterday that will bamboozle the haters and point out just how dominant Tom Brady is stands out (props to ESPN for pointing this out.  See, they can say nice things about the Patriots too!):

The Patriots played a total of 21 formations with an empty backfield, meaning they weren’t even trying to pretend that there might be a running play on tap.  This is especially interesting/amusing for two reasons:

1)      New England was wildly successful last season in their march to the Super Bowl by using formations with two skill position players in the backfield, such as a running back and a fullback, a receiver and a running back, yada yada yada.

They actually (at the time ESPN Stats and Info analyzed it last year) lead the NFL in completion percentage and in first downs per passing attempt.  Brady was also second in total QBR when New England had a 2-man backfield.

2)      The New York Jets are currently flaunting the third-best passing defense in the NFL.  They’ve only allowed 1,171 passing yards all season (for comparison, the New York Giants have allowed 2,018).  The New York secondary is, in terms of big intimidating names like Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and in fact, almost the very best in the NFL.

So, knowing both of those things, playing in empty-backfield formations is basically screaming to one of the best defenses in football “HEY! You! Yes, you! Pay attention! We’re going to throw the ball here!  We’re not even going to act like we might run the ball!  We are VERY CLEARLY planning on passing here!  Better get ready!  A ball is going to be in the air soon! You should probably plan on defending it!”

Here is the aforementioned crazy stat we’re getting at – out of an empty backfield, Brady went 15 for 21 with one touchdown.  Breaking it down further, in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady went 10 for 12 for 109 yards and a touchdown.

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Think about how ridiculous that sounds.  After winning last year with various forms of trickery, deception plays, and skullduggery like the ineligible receiver plays against the Ravens, Julian Edelman’s pass to Danny Amendola, and using Shane Vereen more as a slot receiver than a running back, the Patriots stared down the overall second best defense in the NFL and said “Yeah, we’re going to throw it.  Not even gonna pretend we’re going to do anything else.  Good luck defending it.”

Tom Brady ended the day going 34 for 54 overall, with 355 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

It brings to mind one of the most cocky quotes you’ll ever hear from a New England Patriots player from the 2007 season. Here’s cornerback Ellis Hobbs, after the last game of the regular season:

“They (the Giants) knew it was coming, and they couldn’t stop it.  Everybody knew what we were going to do.  We knew that you knew.  Go stop it.”

Next: Amendola Coming Alive for Patriots

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